• AnthraxCleaning up subways after release of biological warfare agent such as anthrax

    If you’re like most people, you don’t spend much time thinking about what would happen if anthrax was released into your local subway system. But Sandia Lab engineer Mark Tucker has spent much of the past twenty years thinking about incidents involving chemical or biological warfare agents, and the best ways to clean them up. Tucker’s current project focuses on cleaning up a subway system after the release of a biological warfare agent such as anthrax.

  • TerrorismU.K. raises terror threat level after London terrorist attack

    British police is searching for those responsible for an IED explosion on a London subway train. Twenty-nine people were injured in the attack. Counterterrorism experts said the IED may have malfunctioned, thus averting a larger catastrophe. British prime minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, meaning an attack is expected soon.

  • Climate & transportationKeeping the trains running on time in the face of climate change

    There are many railway bridges around the world. In the United Kingdom alone there are more than 40,000 railway bridges. Each nation has employed its own methodology for maintenance and repairs of this essential infrastructure, but new, daunting challenges created by climate change — extreme heat, extreme cold, and severe flooding — require yet more rigorous solutions.

  • Car cybersecurityProtecting auto computer systems from hacks

    When you and your family are zooming along the freeway, the last thing you’re worried about is the security of your car’s computer systems. That’s one reason researchers work hard on protecting vehicles from cyberattacks. Computer engineering research team is focused on the security of wireless interfaces utilized by vehicles, the number of which will only grow as autonomous cars and trucks roll closer to reality. These interfaces in our vehicles, not unlike the computers in our homes and in our hands, can be susceptible to attacks, also known as hacks. The major difference is that attacks on a vehicle’s computer systems, which are connected to critical controls, can have potentially fatal consequences.

  • Autonomous vehicle cybersecurityPreventing autonomous vehicles from being hacked

    Although autonomous vehicles are essentially large computers on wheels, securing them is not the same as securing a communication network that connects desktop computers and smartphones to large geographical areas due to the roles that the sensors and actuators play in the physical layer of the network. Researchers have developed an intelligent transportation system prototype designed to avoid collisions and prevent hacking of autonomous vehicles.

  • Facial recognitionGermany testing face-recognition software to help police spot terrorists

    Germany will be testing facial recognition software at a Berlin train station this summer to see whether it can assist police identify terror suspects more quickly. Volunteers will help police test the software at Berlin’s Suedkreuz station. If the test is successful, the use of the biometric software would be expanded to other locations, and also used to help police identify criminals, not only people suspected of terrorist activities.

  • Flying carsUber picks Dallas, Fort Worth as test cities for flying vehicle network

    By Brandon Formby

    Uber is looking to North Texas as a testing ground for its initiative to make intra-urban flying vehicle rides a reality. The company announced Tuesday that Dallas and Fort Worth are its first U.S. partner cities for what its dubbing the “Uber Elevate Network.” The company hopes to have the first demonstration of how such a network of flying, hailed vehicles would work in three years. The company also tapped a Dallas real estate development firm and Fort Worth’s Bell Helicopter to develop pick-up and drop-off sites for electric vehicles that would take-off and land vertically.

  • Cow avoidanceAutomated, real-time automobile cow-avoidance device

    India has the second largest road network in the world, and a large number of traffic accidents: 1 in 20,000 people die there in a road traffic accident, and 12 in 70,000 are seriously injured in such accidents. India also has a large number of cows roaming streets and roads, and a large number of incidents in which cars run into loitering cows. India researchers have developed a real-time automatic obstacle detection and alert system which determines whether an object near the vehicle is an on-road cow and whether or not its movements represent a risk to the vehicle. If the cow poses a risk to the vehicle, an audio or visual indicator then alerts the driver to apply the brakes.

  • Earthquake early warningEarthquake early warning vital for city transit

    Although no one can reliably predict earthquakes, today’s technology is advanced enough to rapidly detect seismic waves as an earthquake begins, calculate the maximum expected shaking, and send alerts to surrounding areas before damage can occur. This technology is known as “earthquake early warning” (EEW). An EEW system called “ShakeAlert” is being developed and tested for the West Coast of the United States.

  • TerrorismAt least nine killed in St. Petersburg metro bombing

    At least nine people have been killed and about fifty more injured when a bomb exploded on a train in St. Petersburg. An explosive device went off at 2:20 p.m. local time on a train leaving the Technology Institute station and heading to the Sennaya Ploshchad station. All train travel in the St. Petersburg area has been suspended, and Russian security services found and defused another explosive device at the Ploschad Vosstaniya station.

  • Law enforcementPolice say they lack powers to probe phone involvement in crashes

    Four out of five collision investigators surveyed for the research indicated mobile phone involvement in non-fatal accidents was under-reported, with half agreeing the role of phones was even overlooked in fatal crashes. Police officers are worried they lack the right powers and resources properly to investigate whether a mobile phone was being used by a driver at the time of a crash, a new study has found.

  • DecontaminationCleaning concrete contaminated with chemicals

    In March 1995, members of a Japanese cult released the deadly nerve agent sarin into the Tokyo subway system, killing a dozen people and injuring a thousand more. This leads to the question: What if a U.S. transportation hub was contaminated with a chemical agent? The hub might be shut down for weeks, which could have a substantial economic impact. Craig Tenney, a chemical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, is looking for better ways to clean contaminated concrete to reduce that impact.

  • BioterrorismTesting NYC subway biodefenses

    Researchers took to the New York City subway system 9-13 May to study how a surrogate for a biological agent, such as anthrax, might disperse throughout the nation’s largest rapid transit system as a result of a terrorist attack or an accidental release. The study is part of a five-year DHS project called Underground Transport Restoration (UTR) and was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

  • Earthquake early warningJapan’s successful earthquake early warning system offers lessons to U.S. high-speed rail

    As California and other states move forward with high-speed rail plans, some have questioned the system’s ability to withstand earthquakes. This is especially critical in California, an active quake zone. A recent research report says that valuable lessons are easily adapted from Japan’s successes with its early earthquake warning (EEW) systems. This was most recently demonstrated during the series of violent quakes that shook Japan in mid-April, 2016.

  • BioterrorismAirflow study to be conducted in NYC Subway

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will conduct a week-long airflow study in portions of the New York City (NYC) subway system to gather data on the behavior of airborne particles in the event contaminants were released. This study poses no risk to the general public and will run from 9 to 13 May.